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In the movie Sherlock Holmes (2009) I came across the following sentence:

These slabs of sandstone are half a ton each, if they’re a pound, and they’re smashed open from the inside.

I don't understand what this "if they're a pound" part means here. Can anybody explain this to me?

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This is an idiom. The “if they’re a pound” phrase is an ironic way of stating “if they weigh anything at all (and I know they do).” The meaning of the entire sentence is thus “if these slabs of sandstone weigh something, (and they do), they weigh at least half a ton each” or, more directly, “these slabs weigh at least half a ton each”

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  • I wonder why I couldn't find this idiom in any dictionary... Nov 28, 2023 at 0:09
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    @JConstantine - It works with lots of different units. Here's an example from the 1800s where it's "...if they're an inch"
    – Valorum
    Nov 28, 2023 at 0:11
  • Is this more like an old-fashioned idiomatic expression, or it perfectly works these days too and doesn't sound like something from the past? Nov 28, 2023 at 0:18
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    I would say this is a bit abstract but definitely not old-fashioned. Nov 28, 2023 at 0:56
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    I’ve heard it with age. “It’s 100 years old if it’s a day”, etc.
    – GendoIkari
    Nov 28, 2023 at 1:37

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